Karl Barth, RSS, and Why You Need the Bible

Thirty-eight years ago in Time magazine, Karl Barth gave a helpful bit of advice to young theologians:

“Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”

I am not exactly what one would call a Barth fanboy, but he is considered by many as the most important theologian of the 20th century. Perhaps we can learn a few things from what he had to say.

  • A Reason to Read the News Everyday
    If the 18th and 19th centuries can be characterized as the industrial revolution, then the 20th and 21st century can be fairly identified as an information revolution. Digital media has increased demand for—and therefore competition for—news. Blogs, twenty-four hour news channels, and Twitter has made information available in real time. Economic forecasters and social critics rely on instantaneous analysis by “experts” about what is happening in our society. Like it or not, pastors are in competition with these pundits to read the signs of the times.

    Jesus commanded us to be in the world but not of the world, leaving reclusion off the table.

  • A Reason to Read the Bible Everyday
    I don’t expect this will be a hard sell. But some of us have a propensity for becoming news-junkies; leaving the Bible in a dusty corner until a spiritual crisis brings us back in touch with God’s Word. Barth pointed out that we need the Bible to interpret the news and, as previously stated, Jesus pointed out that we cannot be of the world.

    If you read the news every day, you will fail to have the right perspective without reading the Bible before or afterwards.

  • Why Karl Barth would use Google Reader
    Since many ministers focus on—well, ministry—you do not have three hours to devote to reading four newspapers every morning. You do not have time to click through thirty blogs of choice. Surfing the web for information without a plan is too time consuming. That’s why Karl Barth would use Google Reader.

    I hope most of you already use this service but, for the sake of the few, I will explain why this is an effective way to organize your news digest everyday. I agree with Barth: I think it will make you a more effective minister.

    RSS is a service that delivers web content to a “feeder” on a continuous basis. In other words: you don’t have to go get the news, it will be delivered to you. By signing up for a free Google Reader account, you can load the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and ResonateOrDie into your RSS feed to be automatically updated everyday. Instead of clicking through an endless maze of website links, you will simply scroll through your reader, saving hours of time you could spend being more effective at whatever work the Lord has given you. Every morning, in about 30 minutes, I have breezed through headlines from over 50 blogs, newspapers, and online magazines that would otherwise take hours to navigate and remember. RSS also de-clutters your bookmark bar in your web browser.

  • A Final Word from Barth
    “I always pray for the sick, the poor, journalists, authorities of the state and the church—in that order. Journalists form public opinion. They hold terribly important positions. Nevertheless, a theologian should never be formed by the world around him—either East or West. He should make it his vocation to show both East and West that they can live without a clash.”



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4 thoughts on “Karl Barth, RSS, and Why You Need the Bible

  1. Great post, and great point! I think we often forget to filter many things through the love, and light of God's Word. Also if you only fed yourself on the happenings of the world, you would either be too depressed, or too angry to be of any use to anybody. Also, in keeping God's Word first and foremost will allow us to see the needs of the hurting and serve them accordingly.

    Mark http://www.3-foldcord.com/